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The Bible says that God is a jealous God in several books of the Old Covenant. God even calls Himself Jealous.
But is God really a person who expresses jealousy?
How could He ask us to forgive 77 times 7 times in the same day, and Himself experience jealousy as we know it?
Would God be jealous as we humans understand jealousy?

Here are some passages about God being jealous:

Exodus 20:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Deuteronomy 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Exodus 34:14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

Joshua 24:19  But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Nahum 1:2 God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; The Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;

There is no longer any doubt that God is a jealous God, in the passage from Exodus 34 quoted above, He calls Himself Jealous.
But if God is love, He cannot be jealous at the same time, for that would be totally incompatible. Otherwise God would no longer be a perfect God.
It is therefore into the definition of this word jealous that we must dig.

The first thing we notice in the passages we have quoted is that when it speaks of God being jealous, it is the original Hebrew word QANNA. This word is used only for God and cannot be used in the Hebrew language for a human being.
It is therefore important to know what this word QANNA means in its definition.

This word QANNA, often translated as jealous, is one of the names God gives Himself. In some translations this word does indeed give the word jealous, but this word which describes God has nothing to do with human jealousy as we may know it. If this were the case then the Hebrew language would use this word also for humans, but this is not the case.
Here the word QANNA gives more of a sense of exclusivity.
If the name "QANNA", which God gives Himself, can only be used for Him, then we can conclude that only God can be jealous in the sense that "QANNA" gives. It is consequently impossible for any human being to be jealous in the sense of "QANNA".

We can therefore establish a first element which says that when the Bible speaks of God being jealous, it is not at all jealousy as humans can sometimes express it negatively.
God is not jealous in the human sense that we know!

We often have the impression of a heartless and non-compassionate God when we read the Law. And this is quite normal, because this period, which lasted about 1400 years, was there to show the people that they would never be able to sin no more. That is why all their sins were revealed by the Law, to make them aware that they would not be able to make it on their own.

In this period of the Law, there was absolutely no room for "just about". The Law demanded total perfection in order to be fulfilled. The Law demanded complete commitment. It was all or nothing. 
That is why we no longer find this term of God jealous in the New Covenant. Now that the Law has been fulfilled, there is no longer any notion of a perfect life to be attained in order to be saved, even if you must nevertheless strive for perfection. But what I mean is that we are no longer in a period where the Law applies in our lives as a regulation, which was the case for the Hebrew people under the Law.

Of course there is no question of saying that God had a certain personality in the old covenant and that He changed it in the new one. God does not change, He remains the same.

When God says that He is jealous, He is saying in other words that we cannot have a relationship with Him and with another deity in our life at the same time.
Not that God would be jealous and claims us as His property, but simply that it is impossible to be able to enjoy a full relationship with Him, and share it at the same time with something else or with another deity. We can only enjoy God's perfection in our lives if we give ourselves completely to Him.

Why should we do this?
Simply because a relationship with God requires our whole person. God wants to act in our whole being, not just in one part. 
We cannot be in a powerful and whole relationship with God without putting all our person, all our thoughts, all our determination into it. Otherwise, we will only benefit from a part of what He has already given us.

In the Old Covenant God often called Himself jealous of other deities or in regard to sin. This shows us that it is impossible to divide ourselves between God and evil. God warns us not to live a life divided between good and evil. It is in this sense that we find the term exclusivity translated as jealousy.
It is not that God would be a selfish person who would seek all the attention on Him, no God is complete and does not need anything or anyone.
But we are the ones who need a relationship with Him. And this relationship cannot be lived halfway if we want to take full advantage of it.

2 Corinthians 11:2   For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Paul takes up this term jealous again, specifying in the preceding verse that he is exhibiting a bit of foolishness, i.e. that he is using the term jealous to imitate a situation. Paul is talking about a jealousy that comes from God, i.e. it has nothing to do with sinful human jealousy. 
Paul speaks here of exclusivity, he uses the same arguments for the Church saying that we must remain focused on Jesus alone, without giving in to other beliefs, or other concerns that would supplant Jesus in our lives.

God loves us with unconditional love, we are the ones who need Him and not the other way around.
In order to be able to enjoy all that God is in our lives, in order to be able to take full advantage of what God has given us, there is a condition to be fulfilled.
This condition is to make ourselves available to Him and to enter fully into His person by abandoning our own.
If God was not "jealous" in the notion of the word "QANNA", then no one could have a deep relationship with Him, no one could enjoy a perfect and exclusive relationship with God.

In the passage from Nahum that we quoted above, some may wonder why God speaks of vengeance?

Nahum 1:2  God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; The Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;

We will not go into detail about God's vengeance because it is not our subject, but simply to say that the original word translated as "vengeance" is NAQAM.
This word certainly gives the notion of revenge, it also gives the notion of punishment after having committed a fault.
God is love, but he does not leave evil unpunished. We are certainly in a time of grace where sin was suppressed by Jesus on the cross, but when this word of Nahum was spoken, God did not leave sin unpunished.
Even today, anyone who accepts Jesus' offer on the cross to take away all his sins will be a son or daughter of God. But whoever does not accept it will be punished in some way by their own choice. Here the expression "revenge" or "vengeance" is rather in a sense of consequence.

When the Bible speaks of God taking revenge, it does so in a sense that God has set rules in our world, and anyone who chooses to follow or not follow those rules will suffer the consequences. This is what the Bible says when it talks about God's vengeance. But this does not mean that today, in the time of grace we are living in, God will punish all those who do evil. The sin for this time of grace is no longer counted against humans, that is why God does not punish evil. It is humans who are responsible for what happens on earth.

In all these things, God has made sure that man always remains the decision-maker of his own choices. This in the sense that God does not send anyone to hell, nor does He put any negative consequences on people. On the contrary, it is people who decide to go to hell, or to suffer negative consequences, which are certainly given by God, but which are only the result of their own choices.
God loves us and leaves us free to make our own choices.


Bye for now...